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    While there’s always been lots of debate as to what criteria Search Engines use to rank web pages in their search results, what there is little debate about is that appearing high up on the Search Engines Results page has become of key importance to most businesses. Why? Simply because currently, Search Engines are the preferred research tools in today’s marketplace.

    As a result, Search Engine Optimisation (aka SEO) has developed into a thriving (if often maligned) industry as organisations, both large and small, strive to gain higher positions and greater visibility in the Search Engine results pages (SERPs).

    The other thing that has become increasingly apparent is that blogs (and business blogs in particular) have a number of attributes which help them rank highly in the Search Engines, making them an important or even, dare I say, a key part of Search Engine Marketing. To understand why, first let’s have a quick reminder of how Search Engines work.

    Search Engines: a few basics

    The main Search Engines – I’m thinking here primarily of Google, Yahoo and Live – collect information from websites using electronic programs called “robots” or “spiders”. They find new sites and content generally by following links and then reading and indexing the code which creates the individual pages (and hence the text they contain). This is all stored on their servers so that when a search is submitted, the Search Engine sifts through all the relevant pages in its index and then ranks them in terms of relevancy using a mathematical algorithm. The result of all this is what we see on the Search Engine results page.

    They determine this relevancy using over 100 different criteria, if we are to believe the experts in this field, though some criteria are obviously considered more “valuable” than others. Those considered particularly important include the text itself, the inbound and internal links, focus and relevancy of the information and some key onpage elements such as the Title tag. It is also worth reminding ourselves that search engines rank individual pages rather than whole websites when they create their results pages.

    So how can we apply this to blogs?

    Armed with an overview of what Search Engines are looking for to rank pages highly, it’s clear that blogs do in fact fulfil a number of these criteria perfectly, which goes a long way to explain why they rank so well. Specifically:

    • Text: Business Blogs tend to be focused in their content and that is ideal for what Search Engines look for when they are searching for pages which fit with specific search criteria;

    • External Inbound Links: the overriding philosophy in the blogosphere is to reference other blogs by linking to relevant sources; so blogs offering good (and often specific) content are likely to attract a greater number of links;

    • Internal Links: blogs are automatically structured in such a way that the internal linking is excellent with highly relevant anchor text (the words that actually form the link) which is an extra bonus;

    • Up to date information: the most successful blogs are generally ones which are regularly updated and hence offer a growing resource of recent and relevant content;

    • Onpage elements: good blogging software has excellent flexibility which gives you the opportunity to have specific onpage elements (such as the Title Tag) for each individual page.

    Blog Search Engines, Pinging and Instant Indexing

    Although blogs appear in the main Search Engines like any other online site, they also have their own set of Search Engines which focus primarily on blogs. This is important because the way that these Blog Search Engines find new content is different to the main Search Engines.

    If blogs are set up correctly, they will automatically “ping” these search engines – this is the digital equivalent to a ‘tap on the shoulder’ telling them that there is new content for them to index. This happens instantly and, with one of these Blog Search Engines belonging to Google, this means that Google’s main index can pick up your post almost immediately – my best is 6 minutes.

    Of course, if the blog is part of your main website then there is also the greater chance of the rest of your site being indexed more frequently too, let alone all the pages benefiting from the value of the inbound links coming into the blog, linking to your new articles! Ah, is there no end to the benefits!! ;)

    Conclusion: keep developing your Business Blog

    If, like me, you already use a blog for your business, then these Search Engine benefits will not be anything new – no doubt you will have already have seen the sort of great results that you can achieve. If you haven’t, then we really need to talk! :) However, they are particularly impressive when you consider that you are probably writing your blog with your readers uppermost in your mind and these benefits are merely a welcome (albeit very beneficial) side effect.

    Business blogs however are not a magic solution and nor should they be used in isolation – they are at their best when used in conjunction with other marketing activities, both online and offline. Equally, they are not trying to manipulate Search Engines – an accusation sometimes levelled at SEO companies. Simply put, well written and focused blogs give Search Engines exactly what they want to provide for their users – good, specific and up to date information on the subject matter that they are searching for.

    And providing that is of course where both the challenge and the benefits lie!

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    The Title Tag is one of the most important aspects that you can look at when you wish to do some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) on your Blog, so it is good to get it right from the start.

    The Title tag is used in two principal areas: when you are using a browser, it is what appears in the blue bar right at the top of your screen and tells the reader what is contained within the page. Secondly, on the Search Engine Results page, it forms the link that you click on to reach the page shown in the results.

    In the code itself, the Title tag appears in the head part of the code that makes up the page – the code will look like:

    < title >Better Business Blogging < /title >

    In this case, Better Business Blogging will appear as the Title tag information.

    You dont have many words to play with in your Title tag (between 8 and 10 is considered the most that are given relevance) so its important to use them, and ideally have your keywords included. The order that they are used allows adds weight, with words appearing earlier having more importance.

    In Blogs, the Title tag is generated automatically and usually takes the format of the name of your Blog followed by the title of the post. So if we take this page as an example, under normal circumstances, the Title Tag would be:

    Better Business Blogging >> Basic SEO in Blogs: important Title Tag

    However, ideally I would like to highlight the reference to “SEO in Blogs” and so by changing the order in the title tag using my template, I can achieve this. This gives a new Title tag of:

    Basic SEO in Blogs: important Title Tag” – Better Business Blogging

    This will help to the highlight the term “SEO in blogs” more because of its placement in the Title Tag and will give better results for these key terms with the Search Engines.

    While this should not be done in isolation, the Title tag is an important element and so due attention should be paid accordingly. Try it – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    As you might have gathered from the title of this post, content is all important in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)!

    First and foremost, it is content that Search Engines look for when they index a website or blog. So, from the outset, a blog has an ‘unfair’ advantage because it is primarily made up of words whereas websites will often be driven just as much by their graphics – something which search engines just don’t see.

    A well set-up Business Blog has an even greater advantage because it also has a well defined focus and so its content will be targeted towards a particular subject matter. This means that there is likely to be a lot of relevant content and in Search Engine Optimisation terms this is key to all the other elements you add in around it.

    Remember though that while good use of content and keywords will certainly attract the Search Engines, it is the quality of the content that will bring the visitors back, so you need to make sure that what you write is useful and “attractive” to both of them. You can certainly “overoptimise” a post and if it sounds stilted to you when you read it, then it probably will to others as well.

    So, what should you remember when you want to use your content to help your SEO and hence your Search Engine rankings? Well, try to bear in mind:

    Keyword density: this is the number of times a keyword phrase appears on the page divided by the overall number of words it contains. If you are serious about optimising, then you should aim for 5 – 7%, any more than this and it is going to sound very stilted indeed. However, do not churn out text which is keyword rich but doesn’t engage your readers – if you do, then it doesn’t matter if you are highly placed by a Search Engine because people will arrive and then immediately get turned away by the content.

    Placement on the page: Another element to remember is that where you place the text on the page is important as well. Text at the top of the page is considered to have more importance (although it is important to spread your keywords throughout the page) so this means that you should look to get the keywords in the opening paragraph and then continue this throughout the post.

    In blogs, this is not only important in the post itself, but also in the categories. It is possible to have a key article which is always at the top of the category it relates to – this article would summarise the important elements to the category and so, in the best principles of SEO, have content full of key words. Some blogging systems have the functionality built to create this so called “Sticky” post, but with our recommended system of WordPress you will need a plug-in to achieve it. The best we have found is called Adhesive although there are others which achieve the same.

    Highlight key elements: the use of bold and/or italics to highlight keyword phrases makes them stand out not only on the page but also in Search Engine terms. As with all SEO techniques, don’t overuse them but do use them in relevant places to focus on your important key phrases.

    Update on a regular basis: Search Engines also recognise that a website or blog which is constantly changing is likely to have the most up to date information and so be most relevant. So make sure that you maintain a flow of new and relevant postings … BUT, remember the idea of quality content for your readers so don’t post just for the sake of it as this will reduce the overall quality of your blog.

    So to summarise:

    • make the content targeted and well written

    • ensure that the posts contain the keywords that are relevant to the subject

    • aim for good level of keyword density within the context of the article

    • get keywords in at the top of a page or category, and then also spread them through the page
    • use ‘bold’ and ‘italics’ on occasions to give extra weight to your main keywords
    • update regularly to add new content

    But, just to re-iterate one final time, getting good Search Engine rankings is important but you must write for your readers or else all your other efforts will be in vain, so use SEO with this foremost in your mind.

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    Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is as relevant and applicable to blogs as it is to websites in general and, when done properly, is an excellent way to help both Search Engines and visitors alike to identify the most relevant websites for their search.

    By their very nature, blogs already contain elements which naturally lend themselves to good indexing and ranking in the main Search Engines. However, since blogs at one level are websites with certain specific characteristics, then the important elements used in general Search Engine Optimisation are also very relevant when it comes to ensuring that your blogs are optimised as well.

    I thought that it would be worthwhile to revisit some of the main elements and take a look at them in more detail over the coming weeks, on a one by one basis.

    The elements that we will be having a look at are those which are generally accepted to have the most relevance when it comes to be Search Engine ranking. These are:

    • Blog Content
    • Domain name

    • URL / Address of the page

    • Title Tag

    • Description Metatag

    • Headings and Bold

    • Image tags

    • Internal linking

    • External inbound links

    There are other elements which are more specific to blogs which we will also have a look at such as tags which give additional information about the post and the blog – these are used by certain blog Search Engines such as Technorati and are likely to grow in importance.

    Next post in the series will look at ‘Content’ – from an SEO point of view, of course!

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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